IMM2015-Leiden, June 11-12, 2015-A Short Meeting Report

IMM2015-Leiden, June 11-12, 2015-A Short Meeting Report
IMM2015-Leiden, June 11-12, 2015-A Short Meeting Report

On June 11-12, the 8th Workshop on Innovative Mouse Models (IMM2015) was held in the Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands. This biannual meeting brings together a diverse group of researchers interested in developing and exploiting mouse models to study fundamental developmental processes and to mimic human disease. Featuring the most recent advances on transgenic animal technology, this meeting encourages in-depth discussions in a very open way, accessible for young and senior scientists. The local organizers proposed a very attractive program composed of 11 keynote lectures, 10 oral selected presentations and a forum discussion on the impact of new transgenic technology advances. About 150 scientists shared data, frustrations and promising future designs of recent transgenic approaches, particularly exploring the future and limits of the extremely powerful CRISPR/Cas9 system for genome editing. Also discussed were improved mouse reproductive technologies (sperm cryopreservation, embryo production…), novel imaging-technologies and a new and very efficient way of delivering native proteins.
Sjef Verbeek, initiator of the IMM worshops, opened the workshop with a warm welcome for all participants and expressed his gratitude to all the sponsors: Innoser, the International Society for Transgenic Technologies (ISTT), Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and The Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI).
While we were proud to notice that many participants were already ISTT members, we believe that our presence there as a sponsor with a booth could convince many more to take THE step forward and join our society, as well as join us at our next TTMeeting in Prague (TT2016, 20-23 March 2016)! Yes, the ISTT booth attracted many scientists interested in our role and activities and has definitely been a central meeting point of IMM2015!
Benoît Kanzler

ISTT Board of Directors: STATEMENT ON GENETIC ENGINEERING OF HUMAN EMBRYOS

ISTT Board of Directors

STATEMENT ON GENETIC ENGINEERING OF HUMAN EMBRYOS

June 10, 2015

Genetic engineering in animals is a process that has engendered great excitement as well as great anxiety. The technology is used to study developmental processes (using small animals such as the mouse, zebra fish, fruit fly, worm, etc.), determine gene function, and mimic human and animal disease processes. Perhaps the greatest promises of this technology are to develop and test drugs and to perform gene therapy, both of which are intended to prevent or cure disease.

Until recently, a variety of limitations made the technology impractical for all but a few species of animals (primarily mice). However, with the advent of new gene-editing systems, where components are inexpensive, readily generated in the laboratory, and applicable to virtually any species, it is now feasible to perform genetic engineering in the human embryo. Changes made in an embryo brought to term would no longer be confined to that individual, but could be passed through the germline to affect future generations.

A recent publication [Liang, P. et al. Protein Cellhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13238-015-0153-5 (2015)] brought this reality squarely into the public consciousness. In this study, the CRISPR/Cas9 system was used to edit the genome of human embryos. To their credit, the authors were careful to use only non-viable embryos. Furthermore, their detailed examination of the engineered embryos revealed both the intended and unintended modifications that resulted. This study clearly demonstrates that the CRISPR/Cas9 system is currently too imprecise and inefficient for genetic engineering of human embryos for implantation, gestation and birth.

Members of the ISTT use CRISPR/Cas9 technology, as well as other gene-editing technologies, routinely. Many of our members have had integral roles in the development of these technologies and therefore recognize the power of these systems. It is with that knowledge and foresight that the ISTT Board of Directors issues this statement (while understanding that more nuanced discussions and decisions will be needed as the technology improves):

  • Genetic engineering technology, in its current state, is error-prone and must not be used in human embryos intended for implantation.
  • Studies to test new genetic engineering technology in human embryos should be postponed until proven completely safe and effective in other species.
  • New methods of genetic engineering must be carefully assessed to ensure that risk to the human population is negligible.
  • Uses of genetic engineering in human embryos should be limited to disease mitigation for those diseases where no other option is available; we reject the idea of “designer babies.”
  • We strongly urge worldwide agreement on minimum standards for gene editing experiments in human embryos, and will promote such measures with our members. Until such standards have been established, we remain opposed to making any genetic alterations in human embryos that could be inherited by future generations.

 

Life in the Fast Lane: an excellent overview

Recently published in Cell, the paper titled “Life in the Fast Lane: Mammalian Disease Models in the Genomics Era” by Lukas Dow and Scott Lowe (vol 148, issue 6, 16 March 2012, p. 1099-1109) provides an excellent overview of the various methods and techniques that are available to develop rodent models of disease, as diagrammed in the picture here from the same paper. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone in our field.

Floods in Brisbane, the city of the TT2007 meeting

Brisbane in 2007, at the time of the TT2007 meeting
Brisbane in 2007, at the time of the TT2007 meeting

The beautiful city of Brisbane has been severely damaged by floods. Brisbane, in the Australian state of Queensland, was the venue of the 7th Transgenic Technology meeting (TT2007), organized by Elizabeth Williams, Manager of TASQ, the Transgenic Animal Service of the University of Queensland. Most of the buildings on the river sides and surroundings have been partially or totally flooded, the magnificent houses we all remember from our boat trips along the Brisbane river are mostly ruined. The beautiful University of Queensland campus, in a pocket of the river and therefore surrounded by it, has been devastated. Miraculously, the building were TASQ and their mice are located has not been affected. Animals had been wisely held at a 6th floor elevation. Elizabeth’s house, on a hill in Brisbane, has been luckily spared from damage. For those of us who attended the TT2007 meeting we all will remember the floating restaurant where we held the seafood conference banquet. This restaurant was washed away by the river and smashed into pieces after hitting bridge pillars.

In Brisbane, the water level peaked at 4,45 m, in other cities the Queensland flood disaster was worse including, sadly, 15 people confirmed death, to date. Additional information and impressive images and videos can be browsed from Australian newspapers. It will require a lot of time to Brisbane citizens and Australian authorities to first clean and then reconstruct the city as it once was. However, the Brisbane city has shown in the past its spirit, recovering from worse floods in 1974. All of us who once visited Brisbane for a most enjoyable TT2007 meeting have very good memories from our stay. We all hope that Brisbane can recover soon and Elizabeth can resume her work normally. With our best wishes and support from the ISTT.

Welcome to the new ISTT blog!

Of course at the ISTT we too deserved our own blog!. Here it is!. Welcome to the ISTT blog!.

Just register, and type in your comment. First comment will be approved by the blog administrator but subsequent posts will be automatically approved. Please, think about any topic related with the generation and the analysis of genetically modified, transgenic, knockout, knockin, knockdown animals, any issue you’d like to discuss and bring the topic here for discussion. Hope this will be interesting and of some use.

cheers everyone!

Lluis